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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Order of Magnitude II: Things start to get silly


So, on the last Order of Magnitude post I introduced you to my motley crew. You may have noticed that it's a pretty big group by most RPG standards. This is mostly because it's almost impossible for me to turn anyone away from a game. However, the sheer number of players combined with several very effective combat builds means that I have a heck of a time challenging these people without simply wiping them out. Eventually I hit on the proper balance of brutality and restraint to keep things interesting but for a while I settled mostly for hurting the player's hearts and minds directly by engaging in very silly plots. 

The first was started around Halloween and although it was technically tied into the main plot it certainly wandered pretty far afield. At this time the players had managed to learn a bit about the Denarians, evil fallen angels possessing humans, and their seemingly invincible leader, Nicodemus. They're heading west to try and learn more about the master plan that seems to be set in motion. However, middle of the road they are swept up by a tornado, carried for miles and deposited in Kansas (I know, not one of my greatest story hooks). The process leaves them unharmed but smashes the Tumbler (their steam wagon) which forces them to stick around while Miss Hart makes repairs. 

Shortly after their landing the players run across a blocky, bald man named Charles in a cornfield and his dog being attacked by a large group of animated evil scarecrows. Easily dispatching them the posse learns that there's evil afoot in town (predictably) and after a bit of digging they even find evidence that Nicodemus visited this place a few years back in disguise as a priest and spent several years at the local church before faking his death. They decide to visit the place, poke around and make a few disturbing discoveries behind a secret doorway. 

Heading back to their hotel they tuck in for the night and Max hares while everyone else is sleeping in another ill-advised attempt to complete the ritual with Lasciel for more evil power. However, he's interrupted when he sees a man, carrying something in a small blue blanket. Max recognizes him as Linus, a mentally handicapped man who they learned had been cared for by Nicodemus while he was in town. Linus heads up to a large tree by the hotel and buries several objects from his blanket in the ground and then hurries off. Max decides to check this out and digs up the shallow hole. 

In the hole he discovers several large black seeds with sharp-edged shells. After cutting himself accidentally the seeds burrow into the ground and the tree suddenly animates into a nightmarish horror that proceeds to try and eat the boy. Fortunately his allies respond quickly and after a furious battle they manage to put it down. 

(Do you get it yet?)

So, clearly this Linus fellow is up to something so the players track him down to his farm. They fight a few more animated scarecrows and evil, crawling squash. They discover some very bizarre botany experiments being done at Linus's farm involving huge vegetables and satanism. In addition there's a diagram of a giant pumpkin patch a few miles away grown in the shape of a pentagram. The posse heads on over, guns at the ready, and spend some time dealing with more evil vegetables and a barricade of scarecrows created by tying human corpses to posts. These aren't animated but do produce an aura of terror that makes it difficult to pass. Fortunately the posse has serious guts and manage to make it through. 

(How about now?)

So, they finally make it to the pumpkin patch as night falls where they see Linus performing a ritual with a pumpkin the size of a house. They try and snipe him before he can finish but he leaps forward and merges with the shell of the pumpkin. The pumpkin rips free of the ground and attacks with several huge vines and spawns several lesser-pumpkin beasts. The battle is suitably epic and ends with the extremely unwise use of several pounds of high explosives carried by Jethro. 

By the way, if you haven't figured it out by now then you might want to stop reading before you lose all respect for me. For some reason I was inspired to write a Peanuts-based horror adventure. So yes, I did in fact send my Deadlands players to fight both the Kite-Eating Tree and the Great Pumpkin. No, I don't really know why.

*Orphaned Scene*
 This is a scene that the players never actually stumbled upon themselves. That sort of thing happens sometimes but I'm including it here on the off chance someone might find it interesting. This was one of the deeper chambers hidden in the church that the players (wisely) decided to leave alone.

Behind a large iron door there is the sound of quiet movement and possibly a voice. The door is locked and quite tough but if it is broken or picked the players can find a large chamber that appears half science lab and half torture chamber.  The room is quite large and the player's lights only illuminate about half of the chamber. A set of heavy iron bars divide the room and the portion behind the bars is in darkness. From this area the sounds of quiet sobbing can be heard. If the PCs approach or call out then they'll hear a whispering female voice asking them to leave, begging them not to wake the others. Should the PCs approach closer their lights will reveal a huge form consisting of several human bodies apparently sewn together to form a single, horrible undead monster. The light will wake it and without it's master to restrain it the monster is more than powerful enough to rip the iron bars from the ground and attack the players. 

In the original Deadlands this was a creature called a 'Glom (a big one, 10 corpses) but in other games it could be some completely original horror.

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